First Floating Classroom of 2021: More than 50 people learn about macroinvertebrates, aquatic issues
More than 50 people participated on Tuesday, July 6, 2021, in the first of six Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association Floating Classroom programs aboard the Hiawatha Paddleboat near Williamsport.
Members of Dickinson College's ALLARM (Alliance for Aquatic Resource Monitoring) team partnered with the Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association to run the session, titled "Mind Your Macros!"
During the hour-long session, participants learned all about macroinvertebrates, including general ID techniques, the important role played by these creatures in monitoring water quality, studying samples under microscopes, how acidity and other threats impact macroinvertebrates and the issues of invasive species -- such as the rusty crayfish -- and how they can impact the aquatic ecosystem.
"We learned about pollution and its effects on our river and creek ecosystems," said Stacey Eicher, of Mifflinburg, who brought three daughters -- ages 10, 13 and 17 -- on the cruise. "More bugs means a better ecosystem."
Regina Dunklebarger, of Williamsport, appreciated the macroinvertebrate identification, including "how to use a dichotomous key."
There was a wide variety of information to learn in an hour's time, added Erin Ohlfs, of Lewisburg.
"Invertebrates and the issue of invasives vs. native species," she said. "We learned about pH water levels and fertilizer levels in different environments -- and all about different invertebrates."
Via surveys taken at the end of the course, families rated the session mostly 9 or 10 out of 10.
"We really enjoyed being on the Hiawatha," added Ohlfs in the survey. "Keegan (her son) enjoyed looking at all the invertebrates in the microscope, as well as seeing the crayfish."
Five more Floating Classroom sessions are planned through the rest of summer, including three in August (Snakes/songs, fish species, history) and two in September (amphibians and raptors). Tickets are available for three of our floats. For more information, click here.
A variety of photos from the event, thanks in large part to photographer Paige Zaktansky, along with Susquehanna University intern Danielle Tryon and members of Dickinson College's ALLARM team:
John Zaktansky is an award-winning journalist and avid promoter of the outdoors who loves camping, kayaking, fishing and hunting with the family.